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South Yorkshire PEEL 2015

Legitimacy

How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

South Yorkshire Police effectively promotes an ethical culture and standards through its FIRST principles (fairness, integrity, respect, standards and trust), which it uses to guide officers and staff. The force effectively uses a wide range of approaches to engage with the diverse communities it serves.

While South Yorkshire Police is complying with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, it is not complying with the requirement to record and publish the full range of outcomes required by the scheme, including the connection, if any, between the outcome and the item searched for. Taser use is fair and appropriate.

This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.

South Yorkshire Police effectively promotes an ethical culture and standards through its FIRST principles (fairness, integrity, respect, standards and trust), which it uses to guide officers and staff. These principles were updated following the introduction of the Code of Ethics, and a decision was made to run them both in tandem. The force introduced a health, wellbeing and resilience plan in 2013, and to support this, the force operates a wellbeing calendar, with focus being placed on a different area of wellbeing at different times of the year.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that South Yorkshire Police understands the importance of legitimacy and the role effective public engagement has in ensuring people have confidence in the police.

The force effectively uses a wide range of approaches to engage with the diverse communities it serves. A new force website is being developed to provide more information to the public and help record public views. The force provides sufficient feedback to the public and appropriately encourages the public to participate in policing activities.

Stop and search and Taser are two ways that the police can prevent crime and protect the public. However, they can be intrusive and forceful methods, and it is therefore vital that the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that while South Yorkshire Police is complying with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, it is not complying with the requirement to record and publish the full range of outcomes as required by the scheme, including the connection, if any, between the outcome and the item searched for. Taser use is fair and appropriate.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?

HMIC found that South Yorkshire Police effectively promotes an ethical culture and standards through its FIRST principles (fairness, integrity, respect, standards and trust), which it uses to guide officers and staff. These principles were updated following the introduction of the Code of Ethics, and a decision was made to run them both in tandem. Those we spoke to mainly told us that they understand the principles and this helps guide their behaviour. Staff we spoke to are aware of the Code of Ethics and its close relationship to the FIRST principles.

The force introduced a health, wellbeing and resilience plan in 2013, and to support this, the force operates a wellbeing calendar, with focus being placed on a different area of wellbeing at different times of the year.

HMIC found some differences between how police officer and police staff complaint and misconduct processes are handled, which has the potential to lead to unfair treatment. The force is taking steps to align the police staff and officer processes to ensure that the approach is fair.

Good
2

To what extent are forces recording crimes in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules?

This question has not been inspected or graded in 2015.

Ungraded
3

How well does the force understand, engage with and treat fairly the people it serves to maintain and improve its legitimacy?

South Yorkshire Police understands the importance of legitimacy and the role effective public engagement has in ensuring people have confidence in the police.

The force effectively uses a wide range of approaches to engage with the diverse communities it serves. A new force website is being developed to provide more information to the public and help record public views. The force provides sufficient feedback to the public and appropriately encourages the public to participate in policing activities.

The force has a good understanding of local people using surveys, information from social media and traditional community meetings and face-to-face contact. The force is effective in supporting and encouraging staff to act fairly and respectfully and most officers and staff of South Yorkshire Police treat people fairly and with respect. Call-handlers and front-counter staff that we observed were polite, courteous and professional.

The force acknowledges that more could be done and challenges lie ahead, as it goes through a period of major change. However there are effective ways of engagement in place and the force recognises that it needs to retain these to maintain and enhance its legitimacy in the eyes of the people of South Yorkshire.

Good
4

To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?

While South Yorkshire Police is complying with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, it is not complying with the requirement to record and publish a range of outcomes, including the connection, if any, between the outcome and the item searched for. Additionally, we found that in 18 of the 100 stop and search records we examined there were insufficient grounds recorded to justify the search. For these reasons, we consider that South Yorkshire Police falls below the standard required for a ‘Good’ force.

The force recognises that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals are
over-represented in stop and search statistics, and it plans to seek independent academic research to provide a better understanding of this disproportionality.

The force is also establishing an independent scrutiny panel including black, Asian and minority ethnic people and young people who will be able to examine a selection of stop and search records.

Taser officers are well trained and oversight of the deployment of Taser is well managed. There is a clear rationale for the numbers and distribution of Taser-trained officers and an effective review process is instigated when a Taser is used.

Officers mainly understand the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged), and decisions about the use of Taser are generally fair and appropriate.

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that stop and search records include sufficient reasonable grounds to justify the lawful use of the power, and that officers understand fully the grounds required to stop and search.
  • The force should ensure that adequate supervision takes place to ensure that stop and search is conducted lawfully and fairly, and that reasonable grounds are recorded properly.
  • The force should ensure that it complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme in respect of recording and publishing outcomes.